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  PROGRESS THROUGH LEADERSHIP: FORD LEADERSHIP SCHOLARS
 
By: Tyler Koch, Ford Leadership Scholars Program Director
January 15, 2015

 
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Since its inception in 2010, the Ford Leadership Scholars (FLS) Program has continuously proven itself among the ranks of the premier leadership development program within the Texas FFA Association and Texas Team Ag-Ed. Built upon the foundation of six leadership tenants identified by business and industry leaders, the FLS Program brings the concepts of Vision, Action, Awareness, Character, Relationships, and Continuous Improvement to life through intensive training and rigorous program expectations and requirements.  

“We didn’t want this program to look like or feel like anything we’d ever done before” said Tom Maynard, Executive Director of the Texas FFA Association. 

 


After five years of planning, strategy development and execution, the Texas FFA’s commitment to develop something innovative on the leadership front has been realized in a large way. The FLS Class of 2015 stepped up to opportunity, and responded with remarkable results. 

The Ford Leadership Scholars selection process begins with the prospective scholar completing an application online with the intent to familiarize themselves with the “concepts” of industry leadership the program was founded upon.  After an examination on an assigned book, a telephone interview and a six-person round robin interview, the final ten scholars are selected, and invited to attend the week-long training that will transform the six FLS leadership concepts, into principles to live by.


 
The training is a series of challenges built upon the fundamental need for competition among the scholars, and laced with one tenant of leadership after another to draw the scholars closer together. In turn, the training regimen enhances those principles of leadership and scholarship within each one of them, and ensures complete comprehension and commitment to produce quality work in a results-based program. 

When training concludes the scholars are released to their communities where they are charged with executing a year-long community service initiative, with the responsibility of achieving results and delivering sustainable change.  

At the conclusion of the program the scholars are then recognized at the annual banquet. This year the Fifth Annual Ford Leadership Scholars Banquet was held in Austin, January 7, 2015. The event allowed the scholars the opportunity to showcase the service leadership projects they have chosen this past semester through exhibit-style booths. Texas Ford dealer representatives, mentors, parents and special guests, including keynote speaker, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams, toured the exhibits and asked students questions about their projects.



The Ford Leadership Scholars program believes that learning is a lifelong process, with every challenge and responsibility inherently creating and providing an opportunity for personal growth. In that context, the Ford Scholars’ Mentors provide the guidance required to ensure that every learning opportunity is realized and experienced to its fullest extent, and to guide the scholars from principle-based commitment, to community-driven results. 

Aaron Alejandro, Executive Director of the Texas FFA Foundation, describes fully why the FLS program has finally scratched the surface of the successes that are possible for these scholars. 

 

“As these scholars are seniors in High School the Texas FFA Association isn’t naïve enough to believe that we are the only program and organization wanting these students’ attention” said Alejandro. “Since the scholars have competed for their opportunity to be in the program, we now have to compete for them. The referenced competition is not for their time, not for their mere attention, but for their minds.”

When we succeed in our competition for the scholar’s minds, we capture the opportunity to fully embed the intent of the program, and the true tenants of leadership the program sets out to cultivate.  From concepts, to principles, to results, the tenants of leadership driven by the Ford Leadership Scholars Program are gearing up for another year of changing lives and enhancing communities, ten scholars at a time. The platform is leadership, the promise is progress; and with Ford and the Texas FFA involved, we can rest assured that phenomenal results lie ahead for those bold enough to take the FLS Leadership journey and truly go further.  
 
 
 
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